The Forgotten Art of Hypnagogic Inspiration
When looking for inspiration, there are countless different techniques you can use and a wide variety of different strategies that have been used by other creative individuals throughout history. One of the most exciting and unusual of these is largely forgotten and no longer widely used. Nevertheless, it was commonly employed by the likes of Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali, and it’s something you can try yourself right now, as long as you have a sofa and a spoon.
What is Hypnagogia?
The objective here is going to be to enter into a hypnagogic state. What is hypnagogia? It’s the moment where you’re just about to fall asleep, and your thoughts stop making sense.
Just as you’re on the brink of sleep, you will find yourself starting to think things like, “Why is the toaster so wet?’, and you will see images that are random and strange. At this point, you have lost control over your thoughts, and you’re, instead, aimlessly experiencing the different connections of ideas and thoughts in your mind.
Seeing as most psychologists now believe that creativity is actually the act of combining disparate ideas into new ones, this is thought to lead to some rather creative insights. It certainly provided some very surreal imagery for Dali’s paintings. Where else could you see lions jumping out of apples and people with drawers for their stomachs?
How to Induce Hypnagogia
The problem is that most of us fall asleep immediately after this stage and, then, don’t remember what we ‘saw’ there when we wake up. Thus, to use hypnagogia for inspiration, we must first learn how to induce it and keep the memories.
Edison, reportedly, would do this with a spoon and a plate. He’d lie on the sofa to go to sleep, holding a spoon just over the edge above a plate. The moment he fell asleep, he would drop the spoon resulting in a large crash which would wake him up. Then, as soon as he woke up and before the ideas disappeared, he would write down all the insights and ideas that he had encountered. There are a number of other methods you could use, but this one is very effective and simple.
This is how hypnagogia can be used to come up with new ideas, to experience surreal visions, and to explore your own mind. Give it a go, and you might just come up with something new to draw or write about!
The Forgotten Art of Hypnagogic Inspiration
Even if you are the most gracious, understanding and open-minded human being, there will undeniably be times that you are criticized in ignorance. It is important to remember, throughout your life, that everyone you deal with is a human being, and as human beings, we are far from perfect.
There are these underlying human characteristics that can pop up from time to time, and it is important to remember these when receiving criticism. Some people have very limited points of view, which are based on limited life experiences. Some people have a lot of pride. Some people have had experiences in their life that made them extremely cautious.
If you are very passionate about what you do, then at some point or another, you will probably meet people who are potentially jealous of what you have accomplished. Maybe you will meet people who will resent you for the work that you do. Maybe you will meet someone who comes from a different background than you and will judge your work accordingly.
Take your family for example. Let’s say you have a very successful job in the corporate world. You make very good money, you can support your family just fine, but there is something missing for you. You want more out of life, you want to have a bigger impact on others and you want more financial freedom. So you quit your job and you join the world of entrepreneurship or direct sales. What kinds of criticism do you think you will get from your family? How about from your friends? From the people at your church? Probably not the most positive-sounding criticism.
But think about how that criticism can actually benefit you. These people will most likely share the worst things that can happen by you making this change. This will allow you to weigh all the risks involved. These people will tell you that you’re not good enough for this kind of venture. This will give you incredible self-confidence, because you wouldn’t take a risk if you didn’t fully believe in your abilities.
What you have to remember is that when it comes down to it, if you have a passion for what you do, you have to find the positive in every criticism. No matter where the criticism comes from or why you are receiving it, there is always a positive. Ultimately, criticism is what will help you do better in your career and in your life.
We all know the saying, “Everyone’s a critic,” and to be sure, people do love to make their opinions heard, whether they’re an expert on the subject or not. At times, we may even begin to tire of being, what seems, constantly criticized. But there are three great reasons why we should take a breath, step back and listen up each and every time.
Number one, criticism will always, no matter who it’s coming from, give you another perspective on your work. Sometimes what we really need is an outside perspective, whether we realize it or not. Think about it this way, why do you think that there are movie critics and food critics? The greatest value they can give a director or a chef is their unique perspective. That director or that chef can then take their perspective and incorporate it into their work. It brings a whole new dynamic to what they do.
Number two, criticism gives you the full picture of what your work means to other people. It is only through a truthful critique that you can really know whether or not you’re doing a good job. Isn’t that important? If you really care about your work, if you have a passion for what you do, then criticism should be a vital part of what you produce.
Number three, criticism teaches you something. It teaches you about your audience, what the public thinks. It teaches you about the impact your work is or isn’t making. It teaches you to take a second or even third look at your work.
With an open mind, criticism can truly improve your work, making it stronger and more meaningful. Take any person in history who has made a huge difference in the world, the Wright Brothers for example. If they didn’t study and critique the work of those who came before them, it would have taken them a much longer time to get a plane off the ground!
Here’s a challenge for you. The next time your work is criticized, say thank you to that person and really mean it! Remember all the amazing things he or she just did for you. You just gained knowledge. You gained insight into the public’s view of what you do for a living. Then take that criticism and find a way to make your work better because of it. Ask yourself what you learned because of that critique and then find a way to apply it. Do your best not to let any criticism affect you negatively, because it’s you who will be missing out.
The concept of value is kind of a funny concept when you really think about it. There are so many people on this earth, and we all have a different system when it comes to determining what is important to us. In general, the three things that most of us value the most include our lives, our families and our jobs. Now that is a very broad sense of it of course, granted, within each of those aspects, everyone will, again, have a very different value system.
And what is that system based on? What gives value to something? For most people, value is derived from our upbringing, our experiences and our education. It is a concept that differentiates us from others and without a doubt causes many debates, but who says those debates and differences have to be a bad thing?
In fact, more often than not, if we meet someone who has the same values as we do, there are still plenty of subjects to get into a debate about. And this is because we all have different experiences and we all bring a different point of view to a relationship.
Now let’s say that you highly respect another individual. You both have the same values in life, you know their past, you would probably even say that you respect their opinion. That being said, would you respect their criticism? Would you keep an open mind when it came to their critique of your work? Is it only because you know them?
Why is it that we will value the criticism of a friend, but we all too quickly, shy away from the criticism of a stranger? Do they not hold the same value? Perhaps it is the mere fact that they don’t know us, they don’t know our experiences. But in reality, you don’t know their experiences or level of expertise either.
All too often we seem to equate the word value with respect. In some way, this seems to justify ignoring the opinions of someone we donâ€™t know or perhaps for personal reasons, don’t really care what their opinion is. Just because it can be hard to respect someone you don’t know, does that mean that we should automatically find no value, or worth in their opinion? And that is what criticism really is, right? It’s an opinion.
What if we could find value in every opinion, of every criticism we ever received. Imagine how enriched our lives would be, if we could put value to everyone’s opinion, no matter who it is coming from.
How to Make the Most From Your Role Models and Inspirations
Most of us have a role model of some sort, and in many cases, we would cite our parents as being inspirational to us growing up. Effectively, the people who raise us and the adults around us will provide us with a blueprint for successful adulthood, and this, in turn, helps us to make decisions regarding who we want to be and what we want to aspire to.
But beyond this, we might have other inspirational figures in our lives. We might find role models in celebrities or even fictional characters. Perhaps you aspire to be like Barack Obama. Maybe you always thought of yourself as demure and multitalented like Nicole Kidman. Maybe you’re a fast runner like Sonic the Hedgehog.
Wherever you find your inspiration, role models can be a force for great good, but also potentially damaging. Read on, and we’ll look at some tips to help ensure they fall firmly into the former camp.
Nobody is Perfect
The first thing to realize is that nobody is perfect. Taking inspiration from someone is one thing, but hero worship is quite the opposite. What’s important here is that you recognize the limitations of your chosen idol, and don’t put them on a pedestal. Don’t be blind to their flaws, emulate aspects of their character, but be wise enough to learn from their mistakes.
If your personal hero is Arnold Schwarzenegger, don’t see that as a license to sleep with your maid and sire illegitimate children. Emulate his charm, charisma, and entrepreneurial drive only.
For this reason, it’s also a good idea to have more than one role model and to borrow aspects from each of them, while injecting something uniquely your own.
Another thing to avoid is comparing yourself to others. Role models can help give us vision and inspiration, but in some cases, they can also damage our self-esteem if we compare our success with theirs directly. Try looking for role models who are a similar body type or who work in the same industry. This way, you will find there’s potentially more you can learn from them, and you can emulate them more closely.
Finally, be your own person! Remember, somewhere out there is someone who considers you to be their role model. So, make sure you acknowledge what an inspiration you already are.
How to Find Inspiration in Nature
Most of us would admit to finding a sunset somewhat moving and possibly inspirational. Few of us can walk past a beautifully red and purple sky without stopping to take a look and probably upload a picture to Instagram. The same can be said of star-filled skies and crashing waves.
But what is it about nature that we find so beautiful and so inspirational? Why are poets, artists, and musicians drawn to these scenes? And how can you use this to encourage more creativity in your own life?
Why We Find Nature Beautiful
It’s a mistake to say that we find nature beautiful in particular. In fact, we can just as easily experience a sense of awe looking at man-made things. Try climbing to the top of a high building and looking out over the skyline of a city, and see how you feel. Likewise, many of us would express a sense of awe looking at the pyramids.
We feel awe, reverence, and wonder when we see things that we find hard to fathom and that we can’t quite take in all at once. Things incredibly intricate, incredibly beautiful, or incredibly vast all create a sense of being small in a university full of incredible possibilities. Research shows that this is a universal feeling, even shared by some animals, and that it appears to be beneficial for any species as a whole as it encourages altruism and community. Researchers often call these moments ‘peak experiences’.
Where the Inspiration Comes In
So why does this lead to inspiration?
The key thing to recognize is that peak experiences involve novelty and scale. They light up lots of areas of our brain as we struggle to comprehend the entirety of what we’re seeing. This lighting up of the brain results in lots of memories, ideas, and thoughts flowing all at once and this is often said to be the perfect condition for ideas to emerge.
At the same time, beautiful scenes and majestic sights trigger the release of neurotransmitters that make us feel relaxed and exhilarated at the same time. Again, this puts us in a state that is conducive to creative thought and mental experimentation.
How to Harness Peak Experiences
So how do you harness these peak experiences to trigger more innovation and creativity in your life? One way to do this is to subject yourself to more beauty. Go on walks, travel the world, even just spend some time on Google images! Another is to try and appreciate the majesty in even your smallest moments. When you see a flower bloom for the first time, or when you see a swarm of bees, stop to think of all that it represents and of the intricate beauty therein. The greatest poets are those who can see inspiration in all they survey.